The importance of avoiding shipping delays to keep customers happy is something eCommerce merchants understand well. One factor that drives delays is that orders can get ״stuck״ in the manual fraud review queue, awaiting approval.  To avoid a backlog in the queue, merchants usually either hire additional analysts to join the manual review team or invest in improving the automated decisioning process so that less orders are routed to manual review.

In the 2014 Merchant Risk Council Fraud Survey, online merchants reported an average manual review time of 15 minutes per order, not at all bad. Unfortunately, we still see cases of merchants who don’t suffer from lack of resources but leave orders “sitting” in the queue for hours and even days. Orders are delayed not because the merchant cannot handle the load, but because of order review policies. The risk management team is instructed to reach out to customers for additional information in case of certain problematic characteristics, such as missing AVS information or a mismatch between the BIN country and shipping country. The orders are put “on hold” while the risk management team waits to hear back from the customer who placed the order.

How Manual Review Can Impact eCommerce Growth

Long review times often lead to shipping delays, resulting in a poor customer experience. In cases where the customer paid for expedited or next-day shipping, a lengthy fraud review process can mean the entire shipping window is missed. Another real risk of long review times is order cancellations. By the time the merchant decides to approve the order, the customer may have already canceled the order and taken their business elsewhere.

Most importantly, a sub-par experience may cause a customer to avoid returning to your shop, or worse, might lead them to post an angry review online. Since the amount of repeat sales is key to your customer lifetime value, the projected revenue a customer generates for your store during their lifetime, long review times can negatively impact this metric. Poor customer reviews negatively impact your online reputation and harm your brand value. Negative Word of Mouth from unpleased customers affects your net promoter score, an important metric that helps predict customer behavior and company growth rates.

Keeping Review Times Down and Customer Satisfaction High

To avoid getting orders “stuck” in the queue while you wait for a response from the customers, try analyzing the order holistically and looking at all available data points rather than getting hung up on specific problematic data points.

To provide more context, the following are examples of orders that sat in a merchant’s queue for a long time while the fraud team waited to hear back from a customer, and which Riskified managed to quickly approve once the merchant submitted the order to us for review. As you’ll see, there’s no magic involved; simply viewing the order as a whole, which allowed us to find the positive indicators that served as the basis for approving the order.

Quick Approval 1 – High-Value Order Without AVS Information

In this case, the merchant tried reaching out to the customer for additional information but got no response, and didn’t manage to verify the order using third-party tools. After an entire week, the merchant submitted the order to Riskified for review. We analyzed the order and approved it within 16 minutes.

The following positive indicators allowed us to quickly approve the order:

  • Email address → Matches customer’s name & is connected to social profiles
  • Social profiles → Show customer originates from China and is currently in the US
  • IP address → IP range belongs to University of California, San Diego
  • Billing & shipping addresses → University dorms

An online search helped verify a person by this name indeed works for the Brazilian company that owns the email domain. Such an exposed identity usually indicates a very low chance of fraud.

Quick Approval 2 – BIN Country and Billing Country Mismatch

In this case, the merchant spent six days waiting to hear back from the customer before submitting the order to Riskified for review. We analyzed the order and approved it in under one minute.

An online search and the social profiles connected to the email address helped verify that the buyer is a foreign student at the University of California, San Diego. This is another case of an exposed identity, which usually indicates a very low chance of fraud.

The following positive indicators allowed us to quickly approve the order:

  • AVS → Credit card issued in Brazil, explaining lack of AVS information
  • IP address  → Brazilian IP with no proxy
  • Billing address  → Brazilian address, matches shipping address
  • Client agent  → Portuguese on customer’s computer
  • Email domain  → Belongs to private Brazilian company

Don’t Let Them Wait

By taking into account all data points associated with an order rather than focusing on a “risky” indicator, merchants can achieve an efficient, quick manual review process. The “risky” indicators often pale in comparison to the positive indicators. The examples above show that it is possible to reach a decision regarding most orders in a matter of minutes.

In addition to allowing those in charge of manual review to devote more time to other tasks, a quick and accurate fraud review process can improve customer experience and boost satisfaction. In light of the negative impact delayed shipping can have on your business, there’s no reason to let orders “wait” in the queue any longer than absolutely necessary.